tv NBC Nightly News NBC December 17, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
on our broadcast tonit, after the unthinkable in newtown. the first of the young victims are laid to rest. tonight, w on our broadcast tonight, after the unthinkable in newtown. the first of the young victims are laid to rest. tonight, what we now knoabout what happened there, and some surprising voices today calling for tougher gun laws. plus, making a difference. this evening, an outpouring of kindness for a community shouldering an unbearable loss. "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. the wave of sadness and national reflection continues tonight as reality set in a bit today in newtown, connecticut, a town that laid two 6-year-old boys to rest today after the president's visit there last night.
while we learn more today about these victims and sadly more information about the gunman, his possible plans and schemes and this awful thing he carried out. and so to start off our reporting on a monday night after such a sad weekend in this country, we go back to the town that remains the saddest spot in our country, nbc's anne thompson is in newtown for us tonight. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. i'm actually in the center of the borough of sandy hook. near the christmas tree where a big memorial has sprung up in the wake of these shootings. every day brings new details about what happened inside that school. and today we learn that not one, but two people were injured in the attack. welcome news about survivors on a day when the funerals began. old enough to know, too young to understand. the heartbreaking sight of children mourning other children began in newtown today.
6-year-old jack pinto, a loving, vivacious boy, an athletic child, he idolized victor cruz. cruz wrote jack's name on his shoes sunday. now it was the team's turn to pay tribute. >> they were comforted and protected and a message of you're being secure now. >> reporter: noah pozner's mother called her 6-year-old son her "little man." his uncle remembered noah as "smart as a whip." noah's twin sister arielle survived in another classroom. ♪ >> reporter: all 20 children, and the 6 adult women murdered at sandy hook elementary school were remembered at last night's interfaith service. >> i come to offer the love and prayers of the nation. >> reporter: amid the sorrow, there was gratitude. a standing ovation for the first responders, from the families and other mourners in the packed auditorium. volunteer firefighter archie
paloian worked at the event. he too heard the words "thank you." >> these people come up to you, and they're upset, they're crying, they're thanking you for what you've done. i mean, it is heart-wrenching. >> reporter: tonight everyone at the sandy hook firehouse will go home. >> i'm not sure we're ever going to get back to normal. but whatever we can do to head that way, obviously, we want to start doing that. >> reporter: but first, there are more funerals. [ bells tolling ] >> reporter: more than 100 funeral directors throughout connecticut have come forward to help. one more active support newtown so desperately needs. >> the overwhelming support from the community, and seeing the town come together like this is amazing. i'm proud to say that i'm from here. >> reporter: connecticut governor dan malloy today called for a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m. friday to mark the one-week anniversary of the
shooting. and he's also asking the houses of worship throughout the state to ring their bells 26 times. one time each for each of the victims inside that school. brian? >> anne thompson in newtown starting off our coverage tonight, thanks. pete williams has been following this whole sorry case and every development in the investigation since we were first informed of it friday. he's in our d.c. newsroom tonight with more. pete, good evening. >> brian, investigators say adam lanza did not leave behind any note or letter that might reveal what was going through his mind before the shooting. hopes were high that his computer might provide some answers, but so far they say it has not. the police who found nancy lanza, adam lanza's mother, shot to death in bed, also found his computer. they say its internal hard drive, similar to this one, had been removed and severely damaged. attempts to get information from it, law enforcement officials say have so far not been successful.
though experts say it can be difficult it's not always impossible. >> i've seen people try to damage a hard drive with a sledgemmer or screwdriver or throw it in the river. and in most of those cases the forensic efforts have been able to recover some data from the hard drive. >> reporter: as for the guns used in the shooting, officials say nancy lanza legally bought them within the last few years. atf agents verified she and her son adam visited various shooting ranges where he practiced firing weapons. her friends say so too. >> she had done this for adam, partly to teach him responsibility, and to get him out and interacting with people. he took great pride in the fact that he knew how to be safe with the guns and was very responsible with them. >> police say adam lanza was carrying hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he shot out a window to get inside sandy hook elementary. and that he ended the killing shooting himself in the head with a handgun, only when he saw the police coming for him. >> i can tell you the first
responders that got to that scene were the active shooting team entered that school and saved many human lives. i can tell you it broke our hearts when we couldn't save them all. >> adam lanza's former teachers and family friends say he struggled with aspberger's syndrome, a mild form of autism. mental health experts say it has no clear connection to violence. at newtown high school, a psychologist was assigned to help protect him, say former teachers, and a former school official says he had another disorder. he was insensitive to emotional and physical pain. >> i've been asked so many times, was he bullied. i can say it's impossible, because we all watched him so closely. but somewhere after he graduated, and went on in his world, sadly enough, he lost all that support. >> many people who knew nancy lanza say she was a caring mother, determined to do what was best for her son, and they say though he could be difficult, she did not fear him. brian? >> pete williams on the latest known about this case. pete, thank you for that.
they weren't given much time to leave their mark on the world before they were taken away, but today we learn more about the very young lives lost in this tragedy. nbc's kate snow has their stories tonight from newtown. >> we gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children. and six remarkable adults. >> reporter: the president named every single child lost. >> charlotte -- >> reporter: 6-year-old charlotte bacon loved being a daisy scout. her uncle told a newspaper charlotte's mom led the troop of ten girls. only five are still alive. >> daniel. olivia. >> reporter: daniel barden, olivia engel. her cousin and god mother told us olivia's 3-year-old little brother keeps asking for her. >> he's asking for via. where is via? when is via coming home? >> reporter: josephine gay, just celebrated her 7th birthday
last tuesday. ♪ this song, anna grace, was composed for anna marquez greene by her father jimmy a jazz saxophonist. anna was singing, he said, before she talked. >> dylan. madelei madeleine, cath erin. >> reporter: a neighbor told reporters 7-year-old chase kowalski just lost his two front teeth and said he was going to ask santa to bring them back. >> jesse. james. grace. >> reporter: emilie parker was the oldest of three girls. her dad says her laughter was infectious. nchts >> she is an incredible person. >> she is an incredible person. and i'm so blessed to be her dad. >> jack. noah, carolyn. >> reporter: carolyn previdi. her parents told her she could have her own horse when she was
10. she asked santa for new could i girl boots and a hat. >> reporter: benjamin, avielle. allison. god has called them home. >> reporter: many were saved by the actions of adults who died. principal dawn hochsprung, special ed teacher ann marie murphy. substitute teacher lauren russeau. mary sherlach, the school psychologist. victoria soto's family says she barricaded students in a closet and stood between them and the gunman. >> she loved those students more than anything. and she didn't call them her students. she called them her kids. she loved they have so much. >> reporter: rachel davino was working on her phd, helping kids with autism. her aunt says her boyfriend was planning to propose this christmas eve. kate snow, nbc news, sandy hook, connecticut. >> at that same interfaith service last night in newtown, president obama sounded both sad
and exasperated about gun violence. and he said enough is enough. >> we can't tolerate this anymore. these tragedies must end. and to end them, we must change. no single law, no set of laws, can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. but that can't be an excuse for inaction. surely we can do better than this. >> the president said he would use the power of his office to prevent more gun tragedies, and tonight he is being joined by a growing number of prominent voices. tom costello has that part of the story in washington tonight. tom, good evening. >> reporter: hi, brian. it's been a very busy day. the mayor of america's biggest city today urged congress, in fact, challenged congress and
the white house to act, and the nra remains silent. surrounded by victims' families, new york mayor michael bloomberg today said enough talk, it's time to act. >> congress has to come up with something that stops this carnage, no matter what the political ramifications are. >> reporter: long an advocate for stricter gun regulation, bloomberg is pushing congress to close gun show loopholes and demand background checks of anyone who buys a gun. he wants a new assault weapons ban to replace the one that expired in 2004 and a ban on high-capacity ammo clips. and he's promising to use his own vast personal wealth to take on the gun lobby if necessary. the numbers are striking. 8,500 people die each year in gun violence. just since columbine, nearly 14 years ago, more than 30 mass murders involving guns. the list is chilling. >> shame on the nra. >> reporter: today, as protesters gathered outside its offices in washington, the nra again declined to comment on the
debate, but there were signs the sandy hook massacre has eroded some of the nra's influence on capitol hill. >> as your senator, i'll protect our second amendment rights. >> reporter: west virginia senator joe manchin, a lifelong nra member said he's rethinking his own positions. >> i don't know of anybody that goes hunting with an assault rifle. i don't know anybody that needs those types of multiple clips as far as ammunition. >> reporter: and former republican congressman joe scarborough, now an msnbc host, also reversed himself on gun control. >> politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo. they must instead be forced to defend our children. >> reporter: but at least one texas republican continues to defend the right of americans to own assault weapons. >> it ensures against the tyranny of the government. >> reporter: amid the talk of gun control, gun sales have picked up. in portland, just a week after a gunman killed two in an area mall. >> yesterday was the biggest day we've ever done in 20 years.
today will probably eclipse that. >> reporter: gun control, off washington's agenda for a decade, suddenly front and center. late word that another pro gun senator, mark warner of virginia, has also changed his position, and is open to restrictions on assault weapons. senator dianne feinstein of california says she will introduce some regulation along those lines in january. brian? >> tom costello in washington tonight, thanks. there you have it. that's that part of the conversation. still ahead, when we continue, the other part of all of this. about mental health. part of another national conversation. and later, making a difference. acts of kindness and comfort during these terribly sad days. i have a cold, and i took nyquil,
this tragedy in newtown, connecticut has already ignited a national conversation about g. but how about the other half of this? mental illness. think of the component it's been in all the serious gun crimes we have covered. 1 in 17 americans lives with a serious mental illness, that's according to the government, and their symptoms range in severity, of course. but fewer than a third of them receive treatment. we have asked our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman to join us again to talk about this. it is the other component in all those cases we know about because of the name of the place. the ones we'll always remember. >> it is. and just think of it, brian,
columbine, virginia tech, aurora. you start to see a pattern. and what is that pattern? anger, loneliness, social awkwardness, and, of course, access to guns. and the number that brian referenced, 1 out of 17, underscoring that, only one-third of those people get any kind of mental health problem. so here's the real concern. less than 10% of our health care dollars are spent on mental healthcare. and that means that the very wealthy can pay out of pocket. the very poor, there's a little bit of a safety net with medicaid. and everyone in between basically falls through that safety net. and that's what really has a lot of people concerned today. one person who we spoke with, a father who has battled the privacy issues that sometimes bar parents from getting access to their kids' records said tonight, and i'm going to quote him. he said, "it's easier to get an assault rifle today in the united states than it is to get adequate mental health care and that's wrong." and i think speaking on behalf
of parents like you and me and american citizens, you cannot disagree with that statement, brian. >> powerful quote. nancy, we'll continue to cover this starting tomorrow night. thank you for being with us. when we come back this evening, other news of this day, including the late word that an american war hero and longest-serving u.s. senator has died. senator has died. to the best vacation spot on earth. (all) the gulf! it doesn't matter which of our great states folks visit. mississippi, alabama, louisiana or florida, they're gonna love it. shaul, your alabama hospitality is incredible. thanks, karen. love your mississippi outdoors. i vote for your florida beaches, dawn. bill, this louisiana seafood is delicious. we're having such a great year on the gulf, we've decided to put aside our rivalry. now is the perfect time to visit anyone of our states. the beaches and waters couldn't be more beautiful. take a boat ride, go fishing or just lay in the sun.
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as we mentioned, late word tonight, the man third in line to the u.s. presidency has died. democratic senator daniel inouye of hawaii was the senior member, longest-serving member of the senate, which made him the president pro tem of the senate, having served nearly nine terms. first elected back in 1962. inouye was a recipient of the medal of honor. he was wounded during combat in the po valley in italy, a short time and short distance away from where a young bob dole was also hit in combat.
dole almost lost his arm. inouye lost his. while recuperating after the war, the two men struck up a lifelong friendship, served in the senate, of course, together. inouye was given the nation's highest military decoration. he was son of japanese immigrants who volunteered for service in the war and dedicated his life to public service in this country. he was a huge power in the senate on military issues. he was part of both the watergate and iran contra committees. the senior man, senior democrat in the senate, dan inouye of hawaii, was 88 years old. congressman tim scott of south carolina is reportedly about to become the first black senator from the south since reconstruction. the governor of south carolina, nikki haley, has chosen scott to replace senator jim demint. scott is 47, he has a strong conservative voting record. an inspiring personal story. the official announcement apparently comes tomorrow. there are four years remaining in senator demint's term. talks continued today for
the approaching fiscal cliff, which was the big story before newtown, and it's still approaching as these talks go on, as the tragedy perhaps puts politics in a new light. the president and the speaker met again today. our own chuck todd reports that the republicans have submitted some concessions on tax rates. the democrats on spending. as we said, it goes on. how about some news from the moon, where a short time ago tonight, two satellites named ebb and flow went crashing into the moon intentionally. their job had been to go around and around in orbit and measure the moon's gravity. since they we running out of fuel, they were allowed to crash far from anyistoric u.s. landing sites, closer to the moon's north pole. when we come back tonight, the small gestures that are making a difference in newtown, connecticut. newtown, connecticut. ♪
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i always thought shingles was associated with people... a lot older than myself. i can tell you from experience, it is bad. it's something you never want to encounter. for more of the inside story, visit shinglesinfo.com finally tonight, our "making a difference" segment. we want to talk about those who are doing just that in the saddest town in our country. newtown, connecticut is slowly filling up with people, good people, volunteers, and pets. they're providing comfort to see if they can help.
and that counts for a lot. nbc's miguel almaguer has our "making a difference" report tonight from newtown. >> want to say hi, luther. >> reporter: help arrived today in newtown on four legs from chicago. abbey, luther and barnibus, therapy dogs, he to do what perhaps humans can't. comfort people like 9-year-old heather. >> they help you get over how sad it is. >> reporter: at the newtown general store where locals gather, calls have come in from around the world, strangers wanting to help. one man from california paid for a cup of coffee for everyone in town. >> people wanting to do something, awfully large thoughts coming. big hearts. >> reporter: just down the road at panera bread, employees from nearby stores volunteered to fill the shifts behind the counter and in the kitchen. they came so colleagues they've never met can attend memorial services. >> it was wonderful. to be able to allow them that town.
>> reporter: josh, heidi and lacey from atlanta, georgia drove 1,000 miles overnight to offer hugs to strangers. >> you guys are amazing. >> if that happened to us, we know we would need a hug. we're coming to hug and love. >> reporter: the love of a golden retriever has helped others in times of need. these dogs responded to hurricane sandy and the tornado in joplin. luther and the rest of the comfort dogs will be here in newtown for the rest of the week. before they leave, their handlers say they will have spent time with thousands of locals. each dog carries a business card, has a facebook page and e-mail address to keep in contact with people they've touched. >> what a great way to bring smiles to faces, you know? we're all still hurting and they are just so precious and so loving unconditionally. >> reporter: helping hands from best friends and total strangers in a town where it's needed most. miguel almaguer, nbc news, newtown, connecticut.